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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

MAHMOD'S SACK OF MA.THURA. 1017 AJ>.                            33
do justice. The Sultan thus wrote respecting it:i If any one wished to
construct a building equal to it, he would not be able to do so without expend-
ing a hundred million dinars, and the work would occupy two hundred year*,
even though the most able and experienced workmen were employed.' Orders
were given that all the temples should be burnt with naphtha and fire and
levelled with the ground." The city was given up to plunder' for twenty days.
Among the spoil are said to have been five great idols of pure gold with eyes
of rubies and adornments of other precious stones, together with a vast number
of smaller silver images, which, when broken up, formed a load for more than
a hundred camels. The total value of the spoil has been estimated at three
millions of rupees ; while the number of Hindus carried away into captivity
exceeded 5,000.
Nizam-ud-din, Firishta, and the other late Muhammadan historians take for
granted that Mathura was at that time an exclusively Bruhmanical city. It is
possible that Mich was really the case ; but the original authorities leave the
point opon, and speak onjy in general terms of idolaters, a name equally appli-
cable to Buddhi<t*. Many of the temples, after being gutted of all their valu-
able content-*, were left standing, probably because they were too massive to
admit of easy destruction. Some writers allege that the conqueror spared them
on account of their exceeding beauty, founding this opinion on the eulogistic
expressions employed by Mahniud in his letter to the Governor of Ohazni quoted
above. It is also stated that, on his return home, he introduced the Indian
style of architecture at his own capital, where he erected a splendid mosque,
upon which he bestowed the name of * the Celestial Bride.' But, however much
he may have admired the magnificence of Mathura, it is clear that he was influ-
enced by other motives than admiration in sparing the fabric of the temples; for
the gold and silver images, which he did not hesitate to demolish, must have-
been of still more excellent workmanship.
During the period of Muhammadan supremacy, the history of Mathura is
almost a total blank. The natural dislike of the ruling power to be brought
into close personal connection with such a centre of superstition divested the-
town of all political importance ; while the Hinda pilgrims, who still continued
to frequent its impoverished shrines, were inot invited to present, as the priests
were not anxious to receive, any lavish donation which would only excite the
jealousy of the rival faith. Thus, while there are abundant remains of the
earlier Buddhist period, there is not a single building, nor fragment of a
building, which can be assigned to any year in the long interval between the
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